After the Star Wars prequels came out, I found myself a little disenchanted with the entirety of the universe. Let’s face it, Episodes I–III were really bad. Poor characterization, plot holes, the works. To this day, I still don’t even understand why the events in Episode I even warranted a movie, since that entire film could probably be cut and the franchise would lose very little.
Coming to my rescue, however, and restoring my love for the Star Wars Universe, was Misunderstood by Quill of Molliemon.
Episodes I–III were designed as character studies for Anakin Skywalker, to chronicle the events that led him to becoming Darth Vader. Unfortunately, they didn’t go about it in the best of ways. Misunderstood succeeds in exploring realistically how and why Anakin would abandon one side of the Force for the other in a way the movies failed to do. However, it goes about it differently that I originally expected. Misunderstood is an AU fic wherein Anakin starts off as a Sith and slowly over the course of the story converts to being a Jedi.
After Qui-Gon first meets Anakin on Tatooine and wins his freedom, he refuses to take him off the planet, and instead allows Wato to retain a temporary ownership over the boy. Qui-Gon believed that the remaining journey to Coruscant would be dangerous, and he worried that something might happen to Anakin along the way. However, though Qui-Gon promised he would come back after the issues with the Trade Federation were dealt with, his death prevented him from keeping this promise.
Darth Sidious then sends Count Dooku to Tatooine to take and train Anakin instead, leaving him to grow up learning the ways of the dark side. Years later, Anakin, now called Vader, escapes from his new masters, and for better or for worse, he runs into Obi-Wan along the way. Despite his apprehension around Obi-Wan and other Jedi, his paranoia over the Sith finding him again leads him to make a deal with his newfound acquaintances: the Jedi will protect and shelter him in exchange for information. However, in order for Vader to properly hide, the Council also has him pose as Obi-Wan’s new Padawan learner, a situation neither of them are truly happy about.
Misunderstood mostly takes place during The Clone Wars and runs until Order 66, where Vader chooses to help the Jedi instead of killing them. Sadly, some characters, like Ahsoka, don’t play a large role in the narrative—there is only one scene with an unnamed Togruta girl—but many other characters from the novels and comics do make appearances, and Misunderstood does a really good job exploring them and fleshing out the universe.
Additionally, I find the relationship between Padmé and Anakin must more realistic and developed than in the movies. Though Vader can remember who Padmé is when he is first reacquainted with her, she doesn’t recognize him anymore. Though up until that point Vader used to remember her as a perfect angel whom he adored, that image of her shatters when they meet again. He discovers that she is not a perfect angel who can do no wrong, and instead learns that she is a person with faults. Additionally, Padmé doesn’t like him in return, initially, because she finds him rude and very un-Jedi like. Misunderstood gives both these characters differences and obstacles to overcome as they slowly become friends. It forces them to get to know one another and trust each other before even considering putting them in a relationship together. It’s probably what I love about the fic the most.
For anyone interested, you can find Misunderstood on fanfiction.net here. Furthermore, Quill of Molliemon has started on a revision to fix any continuity or grammatical errors in the original version here.